OSHA https://scienceblogs.com/ en “A gift to the construction industry”: catchy quotes from Court of Appeals argument on OSHA’s silica standard https://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/10/14/a-gift-to-the-construction-industry-catchy-quotes-from-court-of-appeals-argument-on-oshas-silica-standard <span>“A gift to the construction industry”: catchy quotes from Court of Appeals argument on OSHA’s silica standard</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>OSHA <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2016/03/24/sorry-it-took-so-long-osha-issues-rule-to-protect-workers-exposed-to-silica-dust/">took the long road</a> to adopt a standard to address respirable crystalline silica. Although the final rule was issued in March 2016, it is being challenged by both industry and labor groups. The first says OSHA went too far, the other says OSHA didn’t go far enough.</p> <p>The long road, however may be coming close to end. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit heard oral arguments last week from parties that are challenging the rule. Judges Merrick Garland, David Tatel and Karen LeCraft Henderson spent more than two hours listening to arguments from the National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA), the Brick Industry Association (BIA), the U.S Chamber of Commerce, the North America Building Trades, the United Steelworkers and others.  Attorneys with the Department of Labor’s Office of the Solicitor were there, too, to defend the OSHA rule.</p> <p>I enjoyed listening (and relistening) to the <a href="https://www.cadc.uscourts.gov/recordings/recordings2018.nsf/FBB1D597702702BE852581A70057DDFE/$file/16-1105.mp3">court’s audio</a> of the oral argument. What made it particularly enjoyable was listening to the judges---they did their homework!</p> <p>Judges Garland and Tatel, in particular, probed, cajoled, and challenged the attorneys to clarify their arguments. The judges pressed the attorneys on issues concerning economic feasibility, health risks, and the legal standard for substantial evidence. There were plenty of references to prior litigation on OSHA health standards. They mentioned significant previous court decision on OSHA standards, such as for asbestos, lead and formaldehyde.  I felt a bit like an outsider, listening to the attorneys speak about those rulings. They described them as if they were old friends who remain relevant today. And like relationships with old friends, we don't always agree about what she said or remember events in the same way.</p> <p>There were times during the oral arguments that the presenting attorney rose to a judge’s challenge for a cogent response. But I cringe a few times when I heard nervous laughter from an industry attorney who knew he was stumped by the judge’s question.</p> <p>Below are just some of my favorite quotes and exchanges. The text doesn't capture the animation I heard in the audio from the courtroom or the commitment of the attorneys to their arguments. I've included a time stamp at each quote so you can listen for yourself. (I had difficulty distinguishing Judge Garland’s from Judge Tatel’s voice. If I incorrectly attribute the quotes, please leave a comment and I’ll correct it.)</p> <p>NSSGA and BIA argue that OSHA overstates the risk of health harm caused by exposure to respirable crystalline silica. Their attorney, William L. Wehrum, said:</p> <blockquote><p>“We assert that OSHA had a thumb on the scale. We believe the record makes clear that OSHA came to this rulemaking with a determined goal of reducing the level of the standard. We believe it clouded OSHA’s judgement and caused it to lose objectivity, which we believe permeates the entire proceeding." [00:02:36]</p></blockquote> <p>Judge Tatel chimed in:</p> <blockquote><p>"You say that OSHA had its thumb on the scale, which is a curious statement given our standard of review. The question is: is there significant evidence in the record to support OSHA’s position for what it did? <em>You</em> can certainly point to contrary evidence, but OSHA has explained <em>all</em> that. ...You have to make your argument in terms of our specific standard of review, which is the substantial evidence question. Our case law is very specific about that."</p></blockquote> <p>Sounding like a law professor Tatel added:</p> <blockquote><p>"What’s your <em>best</em> argument regarding the substantial evidence test?" [00:04:19]</p></blockquote> <p>Wehrum had difficulty providing a short and sweet and precise answer.</p> <p>Judge Garland addressed the problem for the court of dueling scientists. William Wehrum tried to describe the evidence from his side's experts, but Garland interrupted:</p> <blockquote><p>"We have scientists on both sides and the law here is quite clear. When there are scientists on both sides, OSHA is permitted to take the ones that are most likely to protect worker safety. There is <em>supposed</em> to be a thumb on the scale in terms of safety. ...That's what our own case says. It is perfectly appropriate for OSHA to weight in favor of worker safety. That's right, isn't it. [00:09:56]</p></blockquote> <p>William Wehrum: "Correct your honor to a point, but that dosen't insulate OSHA from review.</p> <p>Soundly a bit frustrated, Garland said:</p> <blockquote><p>"That's what we doing here, but it is not enough to say there is a plausible mechanism. You have to be able to show that OSHA's studies are not <em>themselves</em> substantial evidence."</p></blockquote> <p>The attorney representing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce was also schooled by Judge Garland. This time it was a math problem.</p> <p>Attorney Michael Connolly argued that there are so few deaths today is the U.S. from silicosis that OSHA has not met its burden of demonstrating that exposure to respirable silica poses a significant risk of harm to workers. Connolly pointed to the low number of silicosis deaths reported on death certificates and compared to the millions of workers in silica-related industries.</p> <p>Judge Garland asked [00:18:50]:</p> <blockquote><p>"Is that the right <em>division</em>? Dividing the total number of deaths that are reported on the death certificates by the total number of workers in <em>industry</em>? Or is the right number the total number of deaths at a certain level of exposure? That is, in terms of the 1 in 1,000 test.</p></blockquote> <p>(The "1 in 1,000" comes from a <a href="https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=preambles&amp;p_id=748">1980 Supreme Court ruling</a> about OSHA's benzene standard. The Supreme Court justices did not offer a specific ratio but indicated that the threshold likely fell somewhere between 1 death per 1 billion (which would not be considered significant) to 1 death per 1,000 (which would be significant.))</p> <p>Judge Garland continued:</p> <blockquote><p>"It's not supposed to be just 1 over the entire population of the United States, or 1 over everybody who works. It’s supposed to be 1 over 1,000 people who work at a certain exposure level, isn’t that right?"</p></blockquote> <p>Michael Connolly: "Sure. That’s correct."</p> <p>Judge Garland:</p> <blockquote><p>"Isn't it exposed to silica <em>at a certain exposure levels</em> that matters? Not all people who may have been exposed to silica? [20:03]</p></blockquote> <p>Score one for the judge.</p> <p>I wish I'd been in the courtroom for that exchange. I would have turned my head to see if Judge Garland's remark brought a smile to the attorneys who were defending OSHA's rule.</p> <p>Labor Department attorney Kristen Lindberg was charged with responding to some of the arguments raised by the industry petitioners. Among her excellent synopsis was this:</p> <blockquote><p>[00:35:00] "It's worthwhile to step back a little bit and review the support OSHA had in the record for its findings. Their risk assessment findings were supported by nearly all of the occupational health and medical organizations that commented on the rule, including NIOSH, the American Cancer Society, the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the American Thoracic Society, the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics, and the American Public Health Association."</p> <p>"... Industry petitioners want you to reject conclusions that have overwhelming support among scientists and that were supported by the independent peer reviewers who scrutinized OSHA’s risk assessment. They want you to reject this extensive body of scientific evidence on the flimsy basis that there are flaws in some of the studies that OSHA relied upon and that there is uncertainty in epidemiology. They want you to impose a legal burden on OSHA that the agency could never meet."</p> <p>[00:36:53] "The broad support for OSHA’s conclusions within the scientific community should increase the court’s confidence that OSHA’s analysis is sound. The courts understand that OSHA, in marshalling scientific evidence to support a risk assessment, cannot ever reach perfection because the science those risk assessments are based on is not perfect. There <em>will be</em> flaws in studies, there <em>will be</em> stronger and weaker studies, there may be some uncertainty, but what OSHA has done here, its extensive analysis based on a huge body of evidence conforms fully with the OSH Act and with the requirements of courts that have interpreted the OSH Act."</p></blockquote> <p>Bradford Hammock argued the case on behalf of the National Association of Home Builders and other industry groups. He tried to convince the judges that OSHA's requirements for the construction industry are not technological feasible.</p> <p>Victoria Bor, the counsel for North America’s Building Trades Unions dismissed Mr. Hammock's assertions. Her argument began with the following [00:67:40]</p> <blockquote><p>"By way of context, Table 1, which is the centerpiece of the construction standard, is a <em>gift to the construction industry</em>. Most OSHA standards set a permissible exposure limit and require employers to monitor their workplaces and devise their own strategies following the hierarchy of controls to bring exposures below the permissible exposure limit (PEL). The silica standard gives employers options. They can follow the traditional approach or they can follow Table 1, which is in effect is a manual that lists 19 of the 23 construction tasks that most commonly generate significant silica exposure, and specifies control strategies for each. Employers who fully and properly implement the controls listed on Table 1 are freed from monitoring their workplace and have a safe harbor for complying with the PEL.</p> <p>"...OSHA assumes that most employers will follow table, which is a completely reason assumption because it tells employers exactly what they have to do, frees them from monitoring, and gives them a safe harbor for complying with the PEL."</p> <p>"Now rather than accepting this gift, as Mr. Hammock already explained to you, the industry petitioners point to Table 1 and argue that to the extent it requires the use of respirators....OSHA is conceding that the standard isn't feasible. ...The petitioners’ argument completely ignores that Table 1 does not require employers to comply with the PEL. What it requires is for employers to implement the listed controls. So whether the PEL can be reached without the use of respirators---the question that the industry petitioners focus on--- is actually completely irrelevant."</p></blockquote> <p>Victoria Bor continued:</p> <blockquote><p>"What is relevant, as Ms. Goodman [of the Labor Department] said, is that the typical employer can comply with Table 1 most of the time. On this question, the petitioners argument on feasibility rests on vague assertions that in <em>certain</em> circumstances,<em> certain</em> employers may not be able to use <em>certain</em> of the wet methods listed in Table 1 at <em>some</em> time. …Petitioners point to <em>no</em> evidence that undermines OSHA’s conclusions that most employers will be able to comply with Table 1 by utilizing those controls most of the time."</p></blockquote> <p>There was dead silence after her rebuttal. None of the judges asked Victoria Bor to clarify or further defend her arguments. They seemed convinced.</p> <p>The excerpts above are just some of memorable moments from the oral argument. Another was a lengthy argument by the unions and rebuttal by the Labor Department about OSHA's provisions for medical surveillance and medical removal protections. It was the one time that the Labor Department's case seemed on shaky ground.</p> <p>If you  <a href="https://www.cadc.uscourts.gov/recordings/recordings2018.nsf/FBB1D597702702BE852581A70057DDFE/$file/16-1105.mp3">listen to the audio</a> for yourself you'll hear the word "grapple" used numerous times by attorneys for the unions. You'll hear the Labor Department attorneys repeat the phrase"de minimis benefit." You'll hear one judge say to an industry attorney "it's not your principle argument, it's your <em>only</em> argument" and another judge mention "a shopping list." You'll hear all the parties claim that OSHA's decisions are, or are not, "supported by the record." Finally you'll hear many references to previous Supreme Court and Appeals Court decisions on other OSHA standards.</p> <p>It's been many years since OSHA started down the road toward a comprehensive silica standard. People will disagree on when the agency actually hit the road, but they know that last week's stop at the U.S. Court of Appeals means the road may soon be coming to an end.</p> <p>Judges Garland, Henderson, and Tatel are now at the wheel. They will decide whether OSHA's rule will stand as is, or whether the agency needs to make a U-turn.</p> <p>I relished listening to the oral arguments. I'll be eager to read the judge's opinion when it's issued.</p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/cmonforton" lang="" about="/author/cmonforton" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">cmonforton</a></span> <span>Sat, 10/14/2017 - 11:19</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/crystalline-silica" hreflang="en">crystalline silica</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-health-safety" hreflang="en">Occupational Health &amp; Safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/osha" hreflang="en">OSHA</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/regulation" hreflang="en">regulation</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/silica" hreflang="en">silica</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/chamber-commerce" hreflang="en">Chamber of Commerce</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/david-tatel" hreflang="en">David Tatel</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/legal-challenge" hreflang="en">legal challenge</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/merrick-garland" hreflang="en">Merrick Garland</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/us-court-appeals-dc-circuit" hreflang="en">US Court of Appeals DC Circuit</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/regulation" hreflang="en">regulation</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Categories</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/channel/medicine" hreflang="en">Medicine</a></div> </div> </div> <section> </section> <ul class="links inline list-inline"><li class="comment-forbidden"><a href="/user/login?destination=/thepumphandle/2017/10/14/a-gift-to-the-construction-industry-catchy-quotes-from-court-of-appeals-argument-on-oshas-silica-standard%23comment-form">Log in</a> to post comments</li></ul> Sat, 14 Oct 2017 15:19:29 +0000 cmonforton 62941 at https://scienceblogs.com Occupational Health News Roundup https://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/10/10/occupational-health-news-roundup-256 <span>Occupational Health News Roundup</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>At <a href="https://www.revealnews.org/article/they-thought-they-were-going-to-rehab-they-ended-up-in-chicken-plants/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reveal</a>, Amy Julia Harris and Shoshana Walter investigate an increasing criminal justice trend in which defendants are sent to rehab, instead of prison. On its face, the idea is a good one, especially for people struggling with addiction. However, the reporters find that many so-called rehab centers are little more than labor camps funneling unpaid workers into private industry.</p> <p>The story focused on one particular center, Christian Alcoholics &amp; Addicts in Recovery (CAAIR) in Oklahoma. Started by chicken company executives, CAAIR’s court-ordered residents work full-time at Simmons Foods Inc., a billion-dollar company that processes poultry for businesses like Walmart, KFC and PetSmart. CAAIR residents don’t get paid and aren’t covered by workers’ compensation; if they get injured on the job, they can be kicked out of CAAIR or sent back to prison. Harris and Walter write:</p> <blockquote><p>About 280 men are sent to CAAIR each year by courts throughout Oklahoma, as well as Arkansas, Texas and Missouri. Instead of paychecks, the men get bunk beds, meals and Alcoholics and Narcotics Anonymous meetings. If there’s time between work shifts, they can meet with a counselor or attend classes on anger management and parenting. Weekly Bible study is mandatory. For the first four months, so is church. Most days revolve around the work.</p> <p>“Money is an obstacle for so many of these men,” said Janet Wilkerson, CAAIR’s founder and CEO. “We’re not going to charge them to come here, but they’re going to have to work. That’s a part of recovery, getting up like you and I do every day and going to a job.”</p> <p>The program has become an invaluable labor source. Over the years, Simmons Foods repeatedly has laid off paid employees while expanding its use of CAAIR. Simmons now is so reliant on the program for some shifts that the plants likely would shut down if the men didn’t show up, according to former staff members and plant supervisors.</p> <p>But Donny Epp, a spokesman for Simmons Foods, said the company does not depend on CAAIR to fill a labor shortage.</p> <p>“It’s about building relationships with our community and supporting the opportunity to help people become productive citizens,” he said.</p> <p>The arrangement also has paid off for CAAIR. In seven years, the program brought in more than $11 million in revenue, according to tax filings.</p> <p>“They came up with a hell of an idea,” said Parker Grindstaff, who graduated earlier this year. “They’re making a killing off of us.”</p></blockquote> <p>Read the full story at <a href="https://www.revealnews.org/article/they-thought-they-were-going-to-rehab-they-ended-up-in-chicken-plants/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reveal</a>.</p> <p>In other news:</p> <p><a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/10/04/555594403/ben-jerrys-signs-deal-to-improve-migrant-dairy-workers-conditions?utm_source=npr_newsletter&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_content=20171004&amp;utm_campaign=npr_email_a_friend&amp;utm_term=storyshare" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">NPR</a>: Kathleen Masterson reports that Ben &amp; Jerry’s has a signed a deal to help improve working conditions on Vermont dairy farms that supply milk to the ice cream company. Representatives from Ben &amp; Jerry’s and Migrant Justice, a farmworker advocacy group, signed the agreement, which commits the company to paying higher prices to dairy farms that join the Milk with Dignity program. The ultimate goal is to source all of the company’s milk through the program, which ensures workers get adequate breaks, time off, paid sick days, safe job conditions and fair housing. Masterson quoted Enrique Balcazar of Migrant Justice: "This is the first expansion that we've seen from the model of worker-driven social responsibly that was pioneered by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in the Florida tomato fields. It is a great victory and an honor for us dairy workers to expand that model to the dairy industry of Vermont."</p> <p><a href="http://www.newsweek.com/who-has-health-insurance-trumps-labor-department-says-unions-get-americans-681109" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Newsweek</em></a>: Christianna Silva reports that “Trump’s anti-union Labor Department” has just released a study showing that nearly every union member — 94 percent — has access to employer-provided health coverage. On the flip side, 67 percent of nonunion workers <strong>don’t</strong> have access to employer-provided health care. The research, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, found that among workers who have access to employer-provided care, more union workers take advantage of the option. Access the full statistics <a href="https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2017/94-percent-of-union-workers-had-access-to-medical-care-benefits-in-march-2017.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.</p> <p><a href="http://www.masslive.com/politics/index.ssf/2017/10/massachusetts_senate_would_ext.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">MassLive</a>: Shira Schoenberg reports that members of the Massachusetts Senate passed a bill to extend OSHA protections to all public-sector workers. In 2014, state lawmakers expanded OSHA protections to cover all executive branch workers, but the protections didn’t cover those working for cities, towns and higher education. The new bill, which still has to get through the state House, would also establish a new Municipal Occupational Health and Safety Subcommittee. The Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents reports that each week, about 28 municipal workers suffer injuries that keep them out of work for five days. Schoenberg quoted Massachusetts AFL-CIO President Steven Tolman: "When Massachusetts workers arrive on the job each day, their health and safety protections shouldn't vary depending on whether they work in the public sector or private sector.”</p> <p><a href="https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/10/05/jeff-sessions-transgender-people-not-protected-workplace-discrimination/735709001/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>USA Today</em></a>: Kevin Johnson reports on the directive from Attorney General Jeff Sessions saying federal civil rights law does not protect transgender people from discrimination at work. Not surprisingly, the directive rolls back Obama-era protections that stated the “most straightforward reading” of the law also protected transgender workers. Johnson quoted James Esseks, director of the ACLU’s LGBT &amp; HIV Project, who said: "Today marks another low point for a Department of Justice which has been cruelly consistent in its hostility towards the LGBT community and in particular, its inability to treat transgender people with basic dignity and respect.”</p> <p><em>Kim Krisberg is a freelance public health writer living in Austin, Texas, and has been writing about public health for 15 years. Follow me on Twitter — <a href="http://www.twitter.com/kkrisberg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">@kkrisberg</a>.</em></p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/kkrisberg" lang="" about="/author/kkrisberg" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">kkrisberg</a></span> <span>Tue, 10/10/2017 - 16:15</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/agriculture" hreflang="en">agriculture</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/farm-workers" hreflang="en">farm workers</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/government" hreflang="en">government</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/healthcare" hreflang="en">healthcare</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/labor-rights" hreflang="en">labor rights</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/legal" hreflang="en">Legal</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/low-wage-work" hreflang="en">low-wage work</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occup-health-news-roundup" hreflang="en">Occup Health News Roundup</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-health-safety" hreflang="en">Occupational Health &amp; Safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/osha" hreflang="en">OSHA</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/poultry-plants" hreflang="en">poultry plants</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/public-health-general" hreflang="en">Public Health - General</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/safety" hreflang="en">safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/trump-administration" hreflang="en">Trump administration</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/dairy-farm-workers" hreflang="en">dairy farm workers</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/diversion-courts" hreflang="en">diversion courts</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/health-insurance" hreflang="en">health insurance</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/labor-camps" hreflang="en">labor camps</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/labor-union" hreflang="en">labor union</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/low-wage-workers" hreflang="en">low-wage workers</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-health" hreflang="en">Occupational health</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-safety" hreflang="en">occupational safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/poultry-processing" hreflang="en">Poultry Processing</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/poultry-workers" hreflang="en">poultry workers</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/public-health" hreflang="en">public health</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/public-sector-workers" hreflang="en">public sector workers</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/transgender-discrimination" hreflang="en">transgender discrimination</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/wage-theft" hreflang="en">wage theft</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/worker-safety" hreflang="en">worker safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/workplace-discrimination" hreflang="en">workplace discrimination</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/agriculture" hreflang="en">agriculture</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/healthcare" hreflang="en">healthcare</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/labor-rights" hreflang="en">labor rights</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/low-wage-work" hreflang="en">low-wage work</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/poultry-plants" hreflang="en">poultry plants</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/safety" hreflang="en">safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/trump-administration" hreflang="en">Trump administration</a></div> </div> </div> <section> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1874386" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1509441193"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Quick note of thanks to you Kim, for your writing on OH+S stuff , here at Scienceblogs, which looks like finishing up maybe.<br /> As an employee in a tropical region, i found several of your posts very illuminating and relevant on a couple of niche issues.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1874386&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="rMo6NT2Fd7GSmh2SMcrKq6Rqc-l6T3s3PdeZto8591c"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Li D (not verified)</span> on 31 Oct 2017 <a href="https://scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/13095/feed#comment-1874386">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> </section> <ul class="links inline list-inline"><li class="comment-forbidden"><a href="/user/login?destination=/thepumphandle/2017/10/10/occupational-health-news-roundup-256%23comment-form">Log in</a> to post comments</li></ul> Tue, 10 Oct 2017 20:15:39 +0000 kkrisberg 62939 at https://scienceblogs.com Occupational Health News Roundup https://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/09/12/occupational-health-news-roundup-254 <span>Occupational Health News Roundup</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>At the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/organized-labor-steps-up-to-fight-deportations_us_59b6df97e4b03e6197afea7c?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Huffington Post</a>, Dave Jamieson reports that labor unions are stepping up to help protect increasingly vulnerable immigrant workers from deportation. In fact, Jamieson writes that in many instances, labor unions have become “de facto immigrants rights groups,” educating workers on their rights and teaching immigrants how to best handle encounters with immigration officials.</p> <p>Jamieson’s story begins:</p> <blockquote><p>Yahaira Burgos was fearing the worst when her husband, Juan Vivares, reported to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in lower Manhattan in March. Vivares, who fled Colombia and entered the U.S. illegally in 2011, had recently been given a deportation order. Rather than hide, he showed up at the ICE office with Burgos and his lawyer to continue to press his case for asylum.</p> <p>Vivares, 29, was detained for deportation. That’s when Burgos’ union sprang into action.</p> <p>Prepared for Vivares’ detention, members of the Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ gathered for a rally outside the ICE office that afternoon, demanding his release. Union leadership appealed to New York’s congressional delegation, enlisting Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D) to reach out to ICE leadership. The union president even disseminated the name and phone number for the ICE officer handling Vivares’ deportation and urged allies to call him directly.</p> <p>“I was very lucky to have a union,” said Burgos, a 39-year-old native of the Dominican Republic who works as a doorwoman on the Upper East Side. “They moved very fast. They moved every politician and every union member. ... If it were not for the union he would be deported.”</p> <p>Vivares is now at home with Burgos and their 19-month-old son, having been granted a stay of deportation as the court considers his motion to reopen his asylum case. Although he’s far from being in the clear, his lawyer, Rebecca Press, says the union’s quick response was critical to keeping Vivares in the U.S. for now. “I do believe that their being able to reach the upper echelons of Congress gave us a window of time,” she said.</p> <p>Vivares’ case provides a vivid example of the gritty work unions are doing to protect immigrant members and their families vulnerable to deportation in the Trump era.</p></blockquote> <p>Read the full story at the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/organized-labor-steps-up-to-fight-deportations_us_59b6df97e4b03e6197afea7c?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Huffington Post</a>.</p> <p>In other news:</p> <p><a href="http://www.wvgazettemail.com/news/20170902/trump-nominates-former-coal-exec-to-run-msha" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Charleston Gazette-Mail</em></a>: Ken Ward Jr. reports that Trump intends to chose David Zatezalo, the former chief executive of the coal company Rhino Resources, to head up the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration. Zatezalo was a top executive at Rhino when MSHA cited the company for a number of health and safety violations, including two “pattern of violations” letters. In 2011, MSHA took the “unusual” action of seeking a court injunction against Rhino after the agency discovered that miners were being tipped off about the timing of MSHA inspections. In a related article in the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trumps-mine-safety-pick-would-be-policing-his-fellow-coal-operators_us_59af136ae4b0dfaafcf37a5e" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Huffington Post</a>, Dave Jamieson wrote: “If he’s confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate, Zatezalo would be just the latest business-friendly official installed in Trump’s deregulation-happy administration. And like many of the appointees before him, Zatezalo has a resume that appears better suited to an industry trade group than a watchdog government agency.”</p> <p><a href="http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article172164502.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Sacramento Bee</em></a><em>: </em>Marjie Lundstrom reports that a year after 26-year-old Abraham Nicholas Garza was crushed to death at a Sacramento Goodwill outlet store, the nonprofit is facing new lawsuits and heightened scrutiny regarding its worker safety practices. In particular, California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health opened three more investigations into safety issues at three Goodwill locations in the region. Among the lawsuits is one brought by Dave Goudie, a commercial truck driver who witnessed Garza’s death and had repeatedly warned Goodwill managers about the store’s hazardous work conditions. Goudie is suing Goodwill, his former employer, for defamation and retaliation. In the wake of Garza’s death, Goodwill was issued six violations and more than $106,000 in fines — the highest OSHA penalty ever issued against a Goodwill operation nationwide.</p> <p><a href="https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/9/7/16243176/harvey-undocumented-immigrants" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Vox</a>: Alexia Fernandez Campbell reports that in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, unauthorized workers will likely be “desperately needed” to rebuild Houston and the surrounding areas, even as Texas lawmakers are cracking down on undocumented residents and making it harder for them to live and work in the state. Campbell noted that after Hurricane Katrina, undocumented workers did the “dirtiest jobs” during the rebuilding effort, making an average of $10 an hour; overall, undocumented immigrants made up about 25 percent of construction workers after Katrina. However, the post-Katrina situation was also ripe for worker exploitation. Campbell writes: “Federal contractors found themselves in a situation where they could pay workers little money to do dangerous work with little federal oversight. The Department of Labor also temporarily lifted worksite safety enforcement actions against employers in hurricane-affected areas. As a result, undocumented workers were far less likely to get the wages they were promised.”</p> <p><a href="http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-new-york-9-11-responders-20170910-story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Los Angeles Times</em></a>: Matt Hansen writes that years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, “the list of the fallen continues to grow as police officers, firefighters, first responders and recovery workers succumb to illnesses linked to their work in the aftermath of the attacks.” Yesterday, he reported, a memorial on Long Island, New York, was dedicated to those who died on Sept. 11 as well as to those who’ve died from response-related illnesses. As of June, the <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/wtc/index.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">World Trade Center Health Program</a> had more than 67,000 responders and 12,000 attack survivors enrolled; since the program began in 2011, more than 1,300 enrollees have died, though not all deaths were related to the attack. Hansen writes: "John Feal, who heads the FealGood Foundation, a nonprofit that advocates for first responders, worries that there are still too many responders and survivors who aren’t aware of the federal programs. ‘The reality is that more and more people are getting sick and dying,’ he said. He is particularly concerned about the coming emergence of asbestos cases, which he noted can take up to 20 years to appear.”</p> <p><em>Kim Krisberg is a freelance public health writer living in Austin, Texas, and has been writing about public health for 15 years. Follow me on Twitter — </em><a href="http://www.twitter.com/kkrisberg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>@kkrisberg</em></a><em>.</em></p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/kkrisberg" lang="" about="/author/kkrisberg" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">kkrisberg</a></span> <span>Tue, 09/12/2017 - 15:30</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/government" hreflang="en">government</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/labor-rights" hreflang="en">labor rights</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/legal" hreflang="en">Legal</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/low-wage-work" hreflang="en">low-wage work</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/mining" hreflang="en">Mining</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/msha" hreflang="en">MSHA</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occup-health-news-roundup" hreflang="en">Occup Health News Roundup</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-fatalities" hreflang="en">occupational fatalities</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-health-safety" hreflang="en">Occupational Health &amp; Safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/osha" hreflang="en">OSHA</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/pres-trump" hreflang="en">Pres Trump</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/public-health-general" hreflang="en">Public Health - General</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/safety" hreflang="en">safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/trump-administration" hreflang="en">Trump administration</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/911" hreflang="en">9/11</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/first-responders" hreflang="en">first responders</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/hurricane-harvey" hreflang="en">Hurricane Harvey</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/immigrant-workers" hreflang="en">immigrant workers</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/immigration" hreflang="en">immigration</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/low-wage-workers" hreflang="en">low-wage workers</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-health" hreflang="en">Occupational health</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-safety" hreflang="en">occupational safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/president-trump" hreflang="en">President Trump</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/public-health" hreflang="en">public health</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/undocumented-workers" hreflang="en">undocumented workers</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/worker-fatality" hreflang="en">worker fatality</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/worker-safety" hreflang="en">worker safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/workplace-safety" hreflang="en">Workplace Safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/world-trade-center-health-program" hreflang="en">World Trade Center Health Program</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/labor-rights" hreflang="en">labor rights</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/low-wage-work" hreflang="en">low-wage work</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/mining" hreflang="en">Mining</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/safety" hreflang="en">safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/trump-administration" hreflang="en">Trump administration</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Categories</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/channel/policy" hreflang="en">Policy</a></div> </div> </div> <section> </section> <ul class="links inline list-inline"><li class="comment-forbidden"><a href="/user/login?destination=/thepumphandle/2017/09/12/occupational-health-news-roundup-254%23comment-form">Log in</a> to post comments</li></ul> Tue, 12 Sep 2017 19:30:59 +0000 kkrisberg 62924 at https://scienceblogs.com Labor Day yearbook: All workers deserve safety, dignity, respect and justice on the job https://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/09/08/labor-day-yearbook-all-workers-deserve-safety-dignity-respect-and-justice-on-the-job <span>Labor Day yearbook: All workers deserve safety, dignity, respect and justice on the job</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Typically, we like to end the annual “The Year in U.S. Occupational Health &amp; Safety” on an uplifting note. But this time around — to be honest — that was a hard sell.</p> <p>Take a quick look through the <a href="https://www.scribd.com/document/357864830/The-Year-in-US-OHS-Yearbook-2017">2017 yearbook</a> and you’ll quickly glean that worker health and safety is very much at risk under the new administration and from lawmakers in the states. From the attempted rollback of a new federal beryllium exposure standard to state efforts to weaken workers’ compensation systems, the view from 2017 does not seem terribly promising. On the other hand, the fight for workers’ rights has never been easy — it’s always been a movement defined by taking on the powerful by giving voice to the powerless. In that way, organizers and advocates are well prepared for the fight ahead — and they have a long history of labor accomplishments from which to draw strength.</p> <p>On that note, we leave you with an excerpt from the 2017 yearbook — a section called “The Year Ahead”:</p> <blockquote><p>Let’s be frank, the year ahead does not look great. It looks hard and disappointing and upsetting. Beyond the politics and talking points and arguments, the cold, hard fact on the ground is that weakening key mechanisms that create safe and fair working conditions — like data collection, transparency, research and enforcement — emboldens unscrupulous employers and puts workers in harm’s way. This is a fact.</p> <p>Just as this yearbook was going to press in August, worker safety advocates noticed that OSHA has scrubbed its worker fatality list from its home page and buried the link on an internal page. Now, the list only contains incidents for which a citation was issued and removes the names of deceased workers. A Department of Labor spokesperson told reporters the change was meant to protect the privacy of workers’ families. The truth is that OSHA leadership decided to weaken one its most useful enforcement tools. The truth is that removing workers’ names only protects the privacy of employers who may have needlessly put them at mortal risk. A decision like this dehumanizes workplace fatalities, erasing from the raw data the real people and families behind the numbers.</p> <p>Word of OSHA’s website change began circulating around worker advocate listservs and on occupational safety and health sites. By that afternoon, the news had popped up in <em>Politico</em>. Just as quickly as advocates had spread word about the problem, they began discussing ways to ensure that the names and stories of fallen workers would not be washed from public view.</p> <p>No one is surprised that the Trump administration is hostile toward OSHA, an agency whose mission is to hold employers accountable to the law. After all, it’s also a fact that private citizen Trump had a sizeable history of flouting labor laws and practicing ethically questionable behaviors in his own business ventures. Still, watching those inclinations manifest into public policy is hard to stomach.</p> <p>All that said, we know worker advocates in communities across the country won’t be deterred. They’ll just work harder. They face anti-worker sentiment every day, working hand in hand with some of the most powerless people in the U.S. They know that the collective power of informed workers is greater than those who conspire to deny workers their rights and erase their names from view. Labor history is full of such stories. For example, just this year, farm workers in Washington state officially formed America’s first new farm worker union in 25 years. The union is aptly named Familias Unidas por la Justicia — or Families United for Justice.</p> <p>With the future so uncertain and federal commitment to worker safety so unclear, it seems like a critical moment to support organizers on the ground and stand with workers in the streets. Let next year’s Workers’ Memorial Week be a forceful reminder that all workers, regardless of immigration status, deserve safety, dignity, respect, and justice on the job. To borrow a phrase from another social justice movement, workers’ lives matter. Keep telling their stories.</p></blockquote> <p>Like we wrote earlier this week, we also hope you’ll help share the 2017 yearbook far and wide — not only is the yearbook a call to action, it’s a source of inspiration and motivation. Download the 2017 yearbook <a href="https://www.scribd.com/document/357864830/The-Year-in-US-OHS-Yearbook-2017">here</a> and find previous editions <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2015/08/15/yearbooks-on-us-occupational-health-and-safety-2012-2016/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.</p> <p><em>Kim Krisberg is a freelance public health writer living in Austin, Texas, and has been writing about public health for 15 years. Follow me on Twitter — </em><a href="http://www.twitter.com/kkrisberg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>@kkrisberg</em></a><em>.</em></p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/kkrisberg" lang="" about="/author/kkrisberg" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">kkrisberg</a></span> <span>Fri, 09/08/2017 - 11:55</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/government" hreflang="en">government</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/labor-rights" hreflang="en">labor rights</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-health-safety" hreflang="en">Occupational Health &amp; Safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/ohs-yearbook" hreflang="en">OHS Yearbook</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/osha" hreflang="en">OSHA</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/pres-trump" hreflang="en">Pres Trump</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/public-health-general" hreflang="en">Public Health - General</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/safety" hreflang="en">safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-health" hreflang="en">Occupational health</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-safety" hreflang="en">occupational safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/president-trump" hreflang="en">President Trump</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/public-health" hreflang="en">public health</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/year-us-occupational-health-and-safety" hreflang="en">The Year in US Occupational Health and Safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/worker-fatality" hreflang="en">worker fatality</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/worker-rights" hreflang="en">worker rights</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/worker-safety" hreflang="en">worker safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/workplace-safety" hreflang="en">Workplace Safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/labor-rights" hreflang="en">labor rights</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/safety" hreflang="en">safety</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Categories</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/channel/policy" hreflang="en">Policy</a></div> </div> </div> <section> </section> <ul class="links inline list-inline"><li class="comment-forbidden"><a href="/user/login?destination=/thepumphandle/2017/09/08/labor-day-yearbook-all-workers-deserve-safety-dignity-respect-and-justice-on-the-job%23comment-form">Log in</a> to post comments</li></ul> Fri, 08 Sep 2017 15:55:44 +0000 kkrisberg 62922 at https://scienceblogs.com A Labor Day tradition: Sixth annual yearbook on worker health and safety released today https://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/09/04/a-labor-day-tradition-sixth-annual-yearbook-on-worker-health-and-safety-released-today <span>A Labor Day tradition: Sixth annual yearbook on worker health and safety released today</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>For the sixth year in a row, we present “The Year in U.S. Occupational Health &amp; Safety,” our attempt to document the year’s highs and lows as well as the challenges ahead.</p> <p>Like previous editions, the <a href="https://www.scribd.com/document/357864830/The-Year-in-US-OHS-Yearbook-2017">2017 yearbook</a> highlights policies, appointments and activities at the federal, state and local levels; outstanding news reporting on workers’ rights, safety and health; and the latest research from public health agencies and worker groups on the ground. Of course, you can’t ignore the giant elephant (no pun intended) in the room in 2017 — a new president and a Republican-controlled Congress that seem intent on rolling back worker protections and making it harder to access the very information that’s used to prevent future injuries and illnesses in the workplace.</p> <p>To give you a better sense of our 2017 yearbook, released appropriately on Labor Day, below is a passage from its “Introduction and Overview”:</p> <blockquote><p>Protecting worker health and safety is always a challenge, no matter the administration in charge. OSHA is and has always been the little agency that could — there is perhaps no other federal agency whose mission is more stacked against the odds. And yet OSHA has made huge gains in its more than four-decade history.</p> <p>Today, after eight years of steady and hard-fought progress, advocates are watching in dismay as the Trump administration’s anti-regulatory agenda goes to work inside OSHA. Just a couple of examples from the first eight months: elimination of the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces rule, which required those bidding for federal contracts to disclose prior labor violations; proposed elimination of OSHA’s new beryllium exposure standards for the maritime and construction industries; and moves to roll back an Obama-era rule expanding overtime eligibility to millions more workers.</p> <p>Beyond the regulatory rollbacks, OSHA under Trump has quietly made itself less transparent, changing its everyday practices to make 
it harder for advocates to access worker safety data and easier for negligent employers to break the law with little public notice. For instance, in the first four months of the Trump administration, OSHA issued just two enforcement-related news releases, even though the agency had issued more than 200 citations exceeding $40,000. The shift was a big deal, as the resource-strapped agency has typically used public notices as a low-cost, but potentially persuasive, enforcement tool.</p> <p>Most recently in late August, worker safety advocates noticed and quickly spread word about changes on OSHA’s website, where a link to “Workplace Fatalities” had disappeared from the agency’s home page. The fatality list had also been scaled back to only include workplace deaths in which a citation was issued. Both changes make it more burdensome to access health and safety data, which in turn makes it harder to protect workers and hold employers accountable. On top of all that, the Trump administration is proposing elimination of the Chemical Safety Board and big funding cuts to the Department of Labor and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.</p> <p>At the end of the day, it’s worrisome, but oddly familiar territory for safeguarding workers’ rights, safety, and health.</p></blockquote> <p>We’ll be providing brief snapshots of the 2017 yearbook here at The Pump Handle every day this week. We hope you’ll write to us in the comments section detailing your own experiences from the past year and letting us know what we might have missed. We also hope you’ll help share the 2017 yearbook far and wide — not only is the yearbook a call to action, it’s a source of inspiration and motivation. Something we could all use this Labor Day.</p> <p>Download the 2017 yearbook <a href="https://www.scribd.com/document/357864830/The-Year-in-US-OHS-Yearbook-2017">here</a> and find previous editions <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2015/08/15/yearbooks-on-us-occupational-health-and-safety-2012-2016/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">here</a>.</p> <p><em>Kim Krisberg is a freelance public health writer living in Austin, Texas, and has been writing about public health for 15 years. Follow me on Twitter — </em><a href="http://www.twitter.com/kkrisberg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>@kkrisberg</em></a><em>.</em></p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/kkrisberg" lang="" about="/author/kkrisberg" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">kkrisberg</a></span> <span>Mon, 09/04/2017 - 08:42</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/department-labor" hreflang="en">department of labor</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/labor-rights" hreflang="en">labor rights</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/mining" hreflang="en">Mining</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/msha" hreflang="en">MSHA</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/niosh" hreflang="en">NIOSH</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-fatalities" hreflang="en">occupational fatalities</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-health-safety" hreflang="en">Occupational Health &amp; Safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/ohs-yearbook" hreflang="en">OHS Yearbook</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/osha" hreflang="en">OSHA</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/pres-trump" hreflang="en">Pres Trump</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/public-health-general" hreflang="en">Public Health - General</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/workers-compensation" hreflang="en">workers&#039; compensation</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-health" hreflang="en">Occupational health</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-safety" hreflang="en">occupational safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/public-health" hreflang="en">public health</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/year-us-occupational-health-and-safety" hreflang="en">The Year in US Occupational Health and Safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/worker-fatality" hreflang="en">worker fatality</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/worker-safety" hreflang="en">worker safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/workplace-safety" hreflang="en">Workplace Safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/labor-rights" hreflang="en">labor rights</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/mining" hreflang="en">Mining</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/workers-compensation" hreflang="en">workers&#039; compensation</a></div> </div> </div> <section> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1874383" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1504540977"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Terrific work as always, Celeste and Kim! It's a grimmer picture this year, but great to see important progress in some states and in research.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1874383&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="U16S7w_Zi7pAIxTwor3UdUaR2aSbWFn37SWiL4SKBdw"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Liz (not verified)</span> on 04 Sep 2017 <a href="https://scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/13095/feed#comment-1874383">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> </section> <ul class="links inline list-inline"><li class="comment-forbidden"><a href="/user/login?destination=/thepumphandle/2017/09/04/a-labor-day-tradition-sixth-annual-yearbook-on-worker-health-and-safety-released-today%23comment-form">Log in</a> to post comments</li></ul> Mon, 04 Sep 2017 12:42:41 +0000 kkrisberg 62918 at https://scienceblogs.com Occupational Health News Roundup https://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/08/25/occupational-health-news-roundup-253 <span>Occupational Health News Roundup</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>At the <a href="http://www.tampabay.com/projects/2017/investigations/tampa-electric/big-bend-hellfire-from-above/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Tampa Bay Times</em></a>, Neil Bedi, Jonathan Capriel, Anastasia Dawson and Kathleen McGrory investigate a June 29 incident at Tampa Electric in which molten ash — commonly referred to as “slag” — escaped from a boiler and poured downed on workers below. Five workers died.</p> <p>A similar incident occurred at Tampa Electric two decades earlier. If the company had followed the guidelines it devised after that 1997 incident, the five men who died in June would still be alive, the newspaper reported. In particular, the five deaths could have been avoided if the boiler had been turned off before workers attempted maintenance. Tampa Electric says cost wasn’t a factor in deciding to leave the boiler on; however, experts say it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars each time a boiler is shut down. Bedi, Capriel, Dawson and McGrory write:</p> <blockquote><p>Tampa Electric officials said they had done similar work hundreds of times, including six maintenance jobs on slag tanks this year.</p> <p>But experts told the <em>Times</em> the June 29 procedure — removing a blockage from the bottom of a slag tank while the boiler is running — is always risky.</p> <p>Randy Barnett, a program manager at industrial training company National Technology Transfer Inc., who worked in coal-fired power plants for decades, called the practice “obviously unsafe” because it exposes workers to a trio of hazards: slag, high temperatures and extreme pressure.</p> <p>Said Charlie Breeding, a retired engineer who worked for the boiler manufacturer Clyde Bergemann: “<span class="tweetline" data-tweet="“It does not take a genius to figure out that it is dangerous.”" data-story="It does not take a genius to figure out that it is dangerous.">It does not take a genius to figure out that it is dangerous.</span> Common sense tells you that when you’re dealing with molten ash well above 1,000 degrees in temperature, it’s dangerous.”</p> <p>There is no guarantee the slag building up in the boiler will stay there.</p> <p>Even the smallest change in conditions inside the boiler — a slightly different composition of coal feeding its fire, for example — can cause a plug to melt, sending the molten lava rushing into the tank below.</p> <p>“All of a sudden, you’ve opened up the hole,” said George Galanes, who spent decades working in power plants in Illinois before becoming a consultant for Diamond Technical Services.</p> <p>Galanes said the plants he worked at would never do that. “Too much risk,” he said.</p></blockquote> <p>Read the entire investigation at the <a href="http://www.tampabay.com/projects/2017/investigations/tampa-electric/big-bend-hellfire-from-above/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>Tampa Bay Times</em></a>.</p> <p>In other news:</p> <p><a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2017/08/25/osha-worker-deaths-website-242034" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Politico</a>: Ian Kullgren reports that OSHA has erased data on worker fatalities from its home page and replaced it with how companies can voluntarily cooperate with the agency. The worker fatalities didn’t only get buried on an internal web page, the list was also narrowed to only include workplace fatalities for which a citation was issued. Previously, OSHA had a running list of worker deaths on its home page that included the date, name and cause of death and included all deaths reported to the agency, regardless of any citations issued. A Department of Labor spokesperson told Politico that the change was to ensure the public data was more accurate. However, worker advocates disagree. Kullgren quoted Debbie Berkowitz, senior fellow at the National Employment Law Project, who said: “It’s a conscious decision to bury the fact that workers are getting killed on the job. That is totally what it is, so that [Labor Secretary Alexander] Acosta can say, 'Hey, industry is doing a great job and we’re going to help them.'"</p> <p><a href="https://www.wpr.org/3-new-lawsuits-filed-against-superior-shipyard-workers-exposed-unsafe-lead-levels" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Wisconsin Public Radio</a>: Danielle Kaeding reports that three new lawsuits have been filed against Fraser Shipyards in northern Wisconsin for failing to protect workers from unsafe lead exposures. The suits mean the company is now facing four lawsuits on behalf of 44 workers. Earlier this year, Fraser agreed to OSHA fines of $700,000 for exposing workers to lead. Now, workers are seeking compensation for injury, illness, medical care and lost work. Last year’s OSHA investigation, which revealed that Fraser Shipyards was aware of the lead risk, also found that 75 percent of 120 workers tested had elevated blood lead levels. Fourteen workers had blood lead levels up to 20 times the legal exposure limit. Kaeding quoted attorney Matt Sims: "A gentleman who could speak fluidly and without hesitation before this toxic exposure now stutters when he speaks. He’s had changes in his personality. He finds it difficult to focus on everyday mundane tasks that any person wouldn’t have trouble with, and he experiences tremors to the extent that he’s unable to hold a welding torch anymore."</p> <p><a href="http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/21/politics/secret-service-donald-trump-family/index.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">CNN</a>: Wage theft at the White House? Daniella Diaz reports that the Secret Service can no longer pay hundreds of agents to protect President Trump and his family, with more than 1,000 agents already having hit federally mandated caps for salary and overtime. The caps and salaries were initially devised to last the entire year. Secret Service Director Randolph Alles told CNN the budget problem isn’t just related to the Trump family, but has been going on for many years. Diaz reported: “According to the report, Alles has met with congressional lawmakers to discuss planned legislation to increase the combined salary and overtime cap for agents — from $160,000 per year to $187,000. He told <em>USA Today</em> this would be at least for Trump's first term. But he added that even if this were approved, about 130 agents still wouldn't be able to be paid for hundreds of hours already worked.”</p> <p><a href="https://www.propublica.org/article/florida-lawmakers-to-review-law-targeting-injured-undocumented-workers" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">ProPublica &amp; NPR</a>: In response to Michael Grabell’s and Howard Berkes’ <a href="http://www.npr.org/2017/08/16/543650270/they-got-hurt-at-work-then-they-got-deported" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">investigation</a> into a Florida law that allows employers to escape workers’ compensation costs for injuries to undocumented immigrant workers, the second-highest ranking member of the Florida Senate has pledged a legislative review of the law in question. During their investigation, the reporters found that nearly 800 undocumented workers in Florida had been charged with workers comp fraud for using fake identification during the hiring process or in filing for workers’ comp. Some of those injured workers were detained and deported. Grabell and Berkes write: “(Republican state Sen. Anitere) Flores said she is especially concerned about companies who may hire undocumented workers knowing that the threat of prosecution and deportation may keep them from pursuing workers’ comp claims if they are injured at work. ‘That’s borderline unconscionable,’ Flores said, adding that she’ll seek the legislature’s review of this use of Florida law as part of a planned broader look at the state’s workers’ compensation law.”</p> <p><em>Kim Krisberg is a freelance public health writer living in Austin, Texas, and has been writing about public health for 15 years. Follow me on Twitter — </em><a href="http://www.twitter.com/kkrisberg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>@kkrisberg</em></a><em>.</em></p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/kkrisberg" lang="" about="/author/kkrisberg" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">kkrisberg</a></span> <span>Fri, 08/25/2017 - 14:30</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/government" hreflang="en">government</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/labor-rights" hreflang="en">labor rights</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occup-health-news-roundup" hreflang="en">Occup Health News Roundup</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-fatalities" hreflang="en">occupational fatalities</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-health-safety" hreflang="en">Occupational Health &amp; Safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/osha" hreflang="en">OSHA</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/public-health-general" hreflang="en">Public Health - General</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/regulation" hreflang="en">regulation</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/safety" hreflang="en">safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/toxics" hreflang="en">Toxics</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/workers-compensation" hreflang="en">workers&#039; compensation</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/adult-lead-poisoning" hreflang="en">adult lead poisoning</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/coal-ash" hreflang="en">coal ash</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/data-access" hreflang="en">data access</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/donald-trump" hreflang="en">Donald Trump</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/injury-data" hreflang="en">injury data</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-health" hreflang="en">Occupational health</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-safety" hreflang="en">occupational safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/shipbuilders" hreflang="en">shipbuilders</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/slag" hreflang="en">slag</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/undocumented-workers" hreflang="en">undocumented workers</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/wage-theft" hreflang="en">wage theft</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/worker-fatality" hreflang="en">worker fatality</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/worker-safety" hreflang="en">worker safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/workplace-safety" hreflang="en">Workplace Safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/labor-rights" hreflang="en">labor rights</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/regulation" hreflang="en">regulation</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/safety" hreflang="en">safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/toxics" hreflang="en">Toxics</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/workers-compensation" hreflang="en">workers&#039; compensation</a></div> </div> </div> <section> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1874376" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1503700324"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>This is scary as hell.</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1874376&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="P3yRR2EUUU07ZVTBjhXilVUjf6a00Fa8YrYLfX8Dy74"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Marge Cullen (not verified)</span> on 25 Aug 2017 <a href="https://scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/13095/feed#comment-1874376">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> </section> <ul class="links inline list-inline"><li class="comment-forbidden"><a href="/user/login?destination=/thepumphandle/2017/08/25/occupational-health-news-roundup-253%23comment-form">Log in</a> to post comments</li></ul> Fri, 25 Aug 2017 18:30:36 +0000 kkrisberg 62912 at https://scienceblogs.com Trump administration’s de-regulatory agenda: “Watching the American safety net unravel before our eyes” https://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/08/07/trump-administrations-de-regulatory-agenda-watching-the-american-safety-net-unravel-before-our-eyes <span>Trump administration’s de-regulatory agenda: “Watching the American safety net unravel before our eyes”</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>In late July, while many of us were preoccupied with Republican Senators’ attacks on healthcare, <a href="https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/eAgendaMain">the Trump administration released its first regulatory agenda</a> (technically, the Current Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions). These routine updates are published so the public can see what they can anticipate from federal agencies in the way of rulemaking. (Celeste Monforton has been tracking the Department of Labor regulatory agenda <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/category/regulatory-agenda/">for years</a>.)</p> <p>The Trump administration’s first entry into this genre is better described as a de-regulatory agenda. It’s a dizzying array of delays, abandonment of in-process rules, and decisions not to act for the foreseeable future on a wide array of public-health hazards. Fortunately for those of us who have insufficient time to digest the many horrors coming out of the Trump administration, the Center for Progressive Reform has sorted through the agenda specifics. CPR Executive Director Matt Shudtz aptly responded to the Spring 2017 Unified Agenda by stating, “<a href="http://progressivereform.org/articles/Reg_Agenda_Reax_072017.pdf">We are watching the American safety net unravel before our eyes</a>.”</p> <p><a href="http://progressivereform.org/CPRBlog.cfm?idBlog=34BA5BEF-08A3-49CC-B330927AE78B7A1A">CPR’s Rena Steinzor and Elise Desiderio</a> took a look at the reg agendas for several agencies important for public health: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Department of Labor (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (W&amp;H) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). They compared the Trump administration’s first regulatory agenda to the Obama administration’s final one and generated <a href="http://progressivereform.org/articles/CPR_RegAgenda_Comp_080217.pdf">a striking set of charts</a>. They report that the Trump administration appears to have abandoned 131 rules that appeared in the 2016 agenda but not the 2017 agenda. This is in addition to <a href="http://www.progressivereform.org/articles/Trump_Rule_Delays_Chart_071917.pdf">at least 42 rules that Steinzor and Desiderio identified as being delayed</a> between January 20 and July 14 of this year.</p> <p>Steinzor and Desiderio analyzed the kinds of rules that the Trump administration dropped to see if some rationale might be evident. The abandoned rules were “notable winners for public health, consumers, workers, and the environment,” and we don't have evidence that the hazards are effectively addressed by state governments, the market, or voluntary programs. So, they consider other explanations, writing:</p> <blockquote><p>Clearly, the administration had some kind of quota in mind and was slashing as many rules in both the proposed and final stages of development as possible. President Trump wanted to brag that he had cut hundreds of regulations. As devoid of a coherent policy explanation as this approach may be, we suspect something even more disturbing was going on.</p> <p>We envision conference rooms at the Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, the American Petroleum Institute, the American Chemistry Council, the Heritage Foundation, and law firms along the K Street corridor. Occupants of these rooms are compiling lists of the rules that their constituents find irritating and unduly expensive in response to the White House siren song that anything and everything could get moved to the chopping block. Some of these organizations have released very public complaints against many of the abandoned rules, although no one has bragged about transmitting lists to the White House that were cut and pasted into the Trump regulatory agenda. President Trump, though, constantly extols his efforts to help business "thrive again" and even sent "landing teams" to the agencies soon after his inauguration to make sure they were brought under control. We cannot prove definitively that the cuts resulted from industry lists because participants aren't talking, but we are confident that's what happened.</p></blockquote> <p>Various blog posts from CPR legal experts take a closer look at problematic rule delays and losses from specific agencies:</p> <p><strong>Department of Energy:</strong> <a href="http://progressivereform.org/CPRBlog.cfm?idBlog=D127EA21-DD5B-87DA-7B5979B8C777F7AB">Hannah Wiseman</a> explains, “The U.S. energy sector, finally catching up with the rest of the world, has modernized by leaps and bounds in recent years with the help of limited but targeted governmental support. But Trump's agenda would bring this all to an abrupt halt and send us skidding back into the dark ages of energy.” The Trump administration’s agenda slashes pending programming at DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy while repealing modest regulations on hydraulic fracturing and delaying (likely with an eye toward revising or rescinding) a rule on methane emissions from oil and gas wells on Bureau of Land Management lands.</p> <p><strong>Environmental Protection Agency:</strong> <a href="http://progressivereform.org/CPRBlog.cfm?idBlog=3B0EAF13-A126-1146-6D292A5F97A8F288">Matt Shudtz</a> writes of EPA's Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, “the office is in a deep freeze, with nearly all actions delayed, save for a few items that are obvious handouts to favored industries. What's striking about this list is the degree to which regulatory delay and shifting priorities undermine a core function of toxic chemical regulation – protecting people from the hazards that can cost them dearly in terms of health, well-being, and the ability to earn a living.” Problems include delayed action on formaldehyde, lead paint, pesticides, and solvents, as well as slowing more than a dozen rules that would have increased public access to information on chemical manufacturing, releases, and hazards.</p> <p><strong>Food and Drug Administration:</strong> <a href="http://progressivereform.org/CPRBlog.cfm?idBlog=34BA5BEF-08A3-49CC-B330927AE78B7A1A">Steinzor and Desiderio</a> highlight FDA’s proposed delay of a rule prohibiting compounding pharmacies from making or selling three drugs that are no longer for sale from manufacturers because they are either unsafe or ineffective. This rule, they note, came after steroid injections from the New England Compounding Center were contaminated with fungal meningitis, leaving 64 people dead and more than 700 seriously ill.</p> <p><strong>Housing and Urban Development and US Department of Agriculture:</strong> <a href="http://progressivereform.org/CPRBlog.cfm?idBlog=068F63C5-A40B-EA24-407B0681D6CE0570">David Flores</a> warns, “If we were a society that made substantial investments in community resilience, we might accept policies that curtail implementation of disaster assistance programs. But America has historically – and, with President Trump, will very clearly continue to – vastly and dangerously underinvest in pre-disaster mitigation, climate adaptation, and community resilience needs.” He notes that the Trump administration has halted USDA rules for assisting disaster-affected agricultural producers and low-income communities and appears to have abandoned HUD rules providing emergency housing for homeless individuals, veterans, and rural communities.</p> <p><strong>National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:</strong> <a href="http://progressivereform.org/CPRBlog.cfm?idBlog=34BA5BEF-08A3-49CC-B330927AE78B7A1A">Steinzor and Desiderio</a> note the death of a rule that would have required heavy trucks to install speed limiting devices in order to reduce the death toll from crashes. The “free” market won’t fix this problem, they warn, because trucking companies hold so much power over drivers.</p> <p><strong>Occupational Safety and Health Administration:</strong> <a href="http://progressivereform.org/CPRBlog.cfm?idBlog=8E682D57-0121-E36B-8AA26B715CE2AB23">Katie Tracy</a> asks whether OSHA is getting out of the worker protection business, citing the Trump administration’s weakening of recently finalized Obama-era beryllium standard, proposed delay of electronic reporting of workplace injuries and illnesses, and slow-walking of standards to protect emergency workers from on-the-job hazards, healthcare workers from infectious diseases, and workers in a range of industries from combustible dust fires and explosions. She writes, “The White House released the agenda amid what it called 'Made in America' week, but instead of recognizing workers and advocating for safe and healthy jobs and fair wages, Trump brought manufacturers to the nation’s capital to show off their products. When it comes to working families, Trump is ignoring what should be his highest priority – ensuring that every person who leaves home for a job in the morning returns at the end of the day without injury or illness.”</p> <p>And looking at the big picture, CPR's <a href="http://www.progressivereform.org/CPRBlog.cfm?idBlog=CB430BFB-F0BA-9DFF-A2FD989CDE12BD01">James Goodwin</a> writes, “All of this may seem like technical 'inside baseball,' but the Regulatory Agenda, if carried out as planned, would have significant real-world impacts on workers, consumers, families, and communities. It would place an especially heavy burden on the backs of the most vulnerable among us, including low-income and working-class families and communities, children, and workers in dangerous industries, while benefiting well-connected corporate special interests.”</p> <p>Each of these abandoned and delayed rules involved <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2015/08/22/oshas-beryllium-proposal-as-reality-check-on-anti-regulatory-rhetoric/">countless hours of work from agency staff</a> who used research, stakeholder input, and expert advice to draft rules and revise them based on public comment. This work can be undone quickly, though, and with little apparent thought for the lives that will be lost as a result.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Related posts</strong><br /><a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/07/24/ucs-tallies-assaults-on-science-during-trumps-first-six-months/">UCS tallies assaults on science during Trump’s first six months</a> (July 24)<a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/06/16/scientists-join-case-against-trumps-2-for-1-regulatory-order/"><br /> Scientists join case against Trump’s 2 for 1 regulatory order</a> (June 6)<br /><a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/04/20/evolving-door-from-chemical-industry-to-epa-no-way-to-boost-public-confidence/">Revolving door from chemical industry to EPA: No way to boost public confidence</a> (April 20)<br /><a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/01/30/one-step-forward-two-steps-back-dire-consequences-from-trumps-edict-on-regulations/">One step forward, two steps back. Dire consequences from Trump’s edict on regulations</a> (January 30)</p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/lborkowski" lang="" about="/author/lborkowski" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">lborkowski</a></span> <span>Mon, 08/07/2017 - 04:07</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/environmental-health" hreflang="en">Environmental health</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/environmental-protection-agency" hreflang="en">Environmental Protection Agency</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-health-safety" hreflang="en">Occupational Health &amp; Safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/osha" hreflang="en">OSHA</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/regulation" hreflang="en">regulation</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/regulatory-agenda" hreflang="en">regulatory agenda</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/center-progressive-reform" hreflang="en">Center for Progressive Reform</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/cpr" hreflang="en">CPR</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/elise-desiderio" hreflang="en">Elise Desiderio</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/rena-steinzor" hreflang="en">Rena Steinzor</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/environmental-health" hreflang="en">Environmental health</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/regulation" hreflang="en">regulation</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/regulatory-agenda" hreflang="en">regulatory agenda</a></div> </div> </div> <section> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1874371" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1502171415"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>"<i>Utinam populus Americanus unam cervicem haberet.</i>"</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1874371&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="eVSY0Eq0XkgbYGllUYmOQ6lPMNcTZ_tSxSXmn2ghKpQ"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="" content="Mentifex (Arthur T. Murray)">Mentifex (Arth… (not verified)</span> on 08 Aug 2017 <a href="https://scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/13095/feed#comment-1874371">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> <article data-comment-user-id="0" id="comment-1874372" class="js-comment comment-wrapper clearfix"> <mark class="hidden" data-comment-timestamp="1502393563"></mark> <div class="well"> <strong></strong> <div class="field field--name-comment-body field--type-text-long field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Would you be so kind as to translate this for those of us ignorant of Latin and with access only to Google Translate?</p> <p>GT renders it as "If only one neck American people."</p> </div> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderLinks" arguments="0=1874372&amp;1=default&amp;2=en&amp;3=" token="8LPgkRnoaVcjolvIDbGNN_po6J8Pqk9r1SOErbZVmEo"></drupal-render-placeholder> </div> <footer> <em>By <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Christopher Winter (not verified)</span> on 10 Aug 2017 <a href="https://scienceblogs.com/taxonomy/term/13095/feed#comment-1874372">#permalink</a></em> <article typeof="schema:Person" about="/user/0"> <div class="field field--name-user-picture field--type-image field--label-hidden field--item"> <a href="/user/0" hreflang="und"><img src="/files/styles/thumbnail/public/default_images/icon-user.png?itok=yQw_eG_q" width="100" height="100" alt="User Image" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /> </a> </div> </article> </footer> </article> </section> <ul class="links inline list-inline"><li class="comment-forbidden"><a href="/user/login?destination=/thepumphandle/2017/08/07/trump-administrations-de-regulatory-agenda-watching-the-american-safety-net-unravel-before-our-eyes%23comment-form">Log in</a> to post comments</li></ul> Mon, 07 Aug 2017 08:07:19 +0000 lborkowski 62903 at https://scienceblogs.com Occupational Health News Roundup https://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/07/26/occupational-health-news-roundup-251 <span>Occupational Health News Roundup</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>At <a href="http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/government-paying-billions-shipbuilders-histories-safety-lapses/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">PBS Newhour</a>, Aubrey Aden-Buie reports on the shipbuilders that receive billions in federal contracts despite histories of serious safety lapses. In a review of federal contracts, Aden-Buie and colleagues found that since 2008, the federal government has awarded more than $100 billion to companies with records of safety incidents that injured and killed workers.</p> <p>In a transcript of the broadcast (which you can also watch at the link above), Aden-Buie interviews Martin Osborn, a welder at shipbuilder Austal USA in Alabama:</p> <blockquote><p><strong>MARTIN OSBORN:</strong> I was up in a boom lift, as we call it, or a man lift, up in the air about 40 feet, cutting a lifting lug off the side of a module, and had a violent kickback. It kicked out of my hands and went across my left hand, cutting me pretty bad. I didn’t take my glove off, because, I knew if I did that, I would have blood everywhere.</p> <p><strong>AUBREY ADEN-BUIE:</strong> Before Osborn’s accident, Austal modified the Metabo grinder by replacing the standard disc with a sawtooth blade made by an outside company. This made the tool more versatile, able to cut through aluminum more quickly.</p> <p>But the manufacturer of the grinder specifically warned against using these blades, saying they cause frequent kickback and loss of control.</p> <p><strong>MARTIN OSBORN:</strong> I have seen pictures of people getting cut in their face, in their necks, in their thighs. It’s the most dangerous tool I have ever put in my hands.</p> <p><strong>AUBREY ADEN-BUIE:</strong> Does Austal know that the tool is as dangerous as it is?</p> <p><strong>MARTIN OSBORN:</strong> Yes, ma’am, they do.</p> <p><strong>AUBREY ADEN-BUIE:</strong> Company e-mails among Austal’s managers obtained by Reveal show that, even before Osborn’s accident, they called the modification lethal, and the grinders an accident waiting to happen.</p> <p>Yet, according to Osborn, Austal workers still use the grinder daily.</p> <p><strong>MARTIN OSBORN:</strong> I have had numerous supervisors tell me that, you know, if you don’t want to use the tool, go get a job at Burger King.</p></blockquote> <p>To read or view the full story, visit <a href="http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/government-paying-billions-shipbuilders-histories-safety-lapses/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">PBS Newshour</a>.</p> <p>In other news:</p> <p><a href="https://www.texastribune.org/2017/07/19/special-session-lawmakers-target-austin-workers-protectoins/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Texas Tribune</a>: Andy Duehren reports that Texas legislators are considering a measure that would kill regulations in the capital city of Austin that expedite the permitting process for large construction projects that agree to pay construction workers a living wage, follow worker safety standards, and offer worker training and workers’ comp insurance. The measure being considered in the state legislature would accelerate permitting across the state, while prohibiting cities from enacting measures like the one in Austin. In particular, Republican state Rep. Paul Workman, who helped author the legislation, seems to dislike the Austin-based worker center, the Workers Defense Project, that helped craft the Austin regulations, calling the group a “union front.” Duehren writes: “Workman is one of many lawmakers who have received financial support from real estate and construction interests, according to the data from Texans for Public Justice. Gifts to lawmakers from those two industries totaled more than $23 million between 2013 and 2016<strong>,</strong> the group found.”</p> <p><a href="http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/343664-dems-bill-would-ban-controversial-pesticide" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>The Hill</em></a>: Timothy Cama reports that congressional Democrats have introduced legislation that would ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos. That’s the same pesticide that U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt decided not to ban, despite the recommendations of EPA’s scientific advisors. The pesticide was <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/food/2017/07/bill-ban-chemical-epa-pruitt-trump/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">recently involved</a> in sickening farmworkers in California, and research shows it can cause neurological problems in children and fetuses. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said of the legislation: “Administrator Pruitt may choose to put aside science, public health and environmental protection in favor of big chemical profits, but Congress should not.”</p> <p><a href="https://www.bna.com/chevron-pay-1m-n73014462202/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Bloomberg BNA</a>: David McAfee reports that Chevron has settled with Cal/OSHA officials to pay more than $1 million in fines and make comprehensive safety changes at its refinery in Richmond, California, after a 2012 fire at the refinery sent a cloud of gas and smoke over the nearby community. Cal/OSHA issued 17 workplace safety and health violations following the incident. As part of the new agreement, Chevron will make safety upgrades to the refinery’s equipment, provide training in hazard recognition and continue working with the United Steelworkers. McAfee quoted Clyde Trombettas, statewide manager and policy adviser for Cal/OSHA’s process safety management unit: “The penalty, $1,010,000, was the highest penalty assessed on any employer in Cal/OSHA history, which I think is very significant.”</p> <p><a href="https://www.revealnews.org/blog/house-committee-votes-to-kill-equal-pay-initiative/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reveal</a>: Sinduja Rangarajan reports that the House Appropriations Committee has approved a budget amendment to defund an initiative designed to narrow wage disparities and that required some employers to disclose pay data by gender, race and job category. In particular, the House amendment would prohibit the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission from using funds to collect such data. Among those opposing the initiative was the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which argued that collecting such data was a burden for employers and that it would reveal sensitive information. Rangarajan reports: “The data would help the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission benchmark pay patterns within industries, occupations and localities and take a closer look at firms that fall outside those patterns, said Emily Martin, general counsel and vice president of workplace justice at the National Women’s Law Center.”</p> <p><em>Kim Krisberg is a freelance public health writer living in Austin, Texas, and has been writing about public health for 15 years. Follow me on Twitter — </em><a href="http://www.twitter.com/kkrisberg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em>@kkrisberg</em></a><em>.</em></p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/kkrisberg" lang="" about="/author/kkrisberg" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">kkrisberg</a></span> <span>Wed, 07/26/2017 - 12:40</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/agriculture" hreflang="en">agriculture</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/calosha" hreflang="en">Cal/OSHA</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/california" hreflang="en">california</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/chemical-facility-safety" hreflang="en">Chemical facility safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/environmental-health" hreflang="en">Environmental health</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/farm-workers" hreflang="en">farm workers</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/government" hreflang="en">government</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/labor-rights" hreflang="en">labor rights</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/low-wage-work" hreflang="en">low-wage work</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occup-health-news-roundup" hreflang="en">Occup Health News Roundup</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-health-safety" hreflang="en">Occupational Health &amp; Safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/osha" hreflang="en">OSHA</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/pesticides" hreflang="en">Pesticides</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/public-health-general" hreflang="en">Public Health - General</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/safety" hreflang="en">safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/toxics" hreflang="en">Toxics</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/chemicals" hreflang="en">chemicals</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/chevron-refinery" hreflang="en">Chevron refinery</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/construction-workers" hreflang="en">Construction Workers</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/equal-pay" hreflang="en">equal pay</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/low-wage-workers" hreflang="en">low-wage workers</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-health" hreflang="en">Occupational health</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-safety" hreflang="en">occupational safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/shipbuilders" hreflang="en">shipbuilders</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/worker-fatality" hreflang="en">worker fatality</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/worker-safety" hreflang="en">worker safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/workplace-safety" hreflang="en">Workplace Safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/agriculture" hreflang="en">agriculture</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/environmental-health" hreflang="en">Environmental health</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/labor-rights" hreflang="en">labor rights</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/low-wage-work" hreflang="en">low-wage work</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/pesticides" hreflang="en">Pesticides</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/safety" hreflang="en">safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/toxics" hreflang="en">Toxics</a></div> </div> </div> <section> </section> <ul class="links inline list-inline"><li class="comment-forbidden"><a href="/user/login?destination=/thepumphandle/2017/07/26/occupational-health-news-roundup-251%23comment-form">Log in</a> to post comments</li></ul> Wed, 26 Jul 2017 16:40:20 +0000 kkrisberg 62898 at https://scienceblogs.com UCS tallies assaults on science during Trump’s first six months https://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/07/24/ucs-tallies-assaults-on-science-during-trumps-first-six-months <span>UCS tallies assaults on science during Trump’s first six months</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>Members of the public health community are aware of many of the ways the Trump administration and the 115<sup>th</sup> Congress are hindering and reversing evidence-based actions for public health – from <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/01/30/one-step-forward-two-steps-back-dire-consequences-from-trumps-edict-on-regulations/">an executive order requiring agencies to scrap two regulations each time they create a new one</a> to advancing legislation that would <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/04/11/house-passes-bills-that-will-make-it-harder-for-epa-to-protect-public-health/">make it harder for EPA to obtain and use the most up-to-date science in its work</a>. With so many threats to public health arising each month, it can be hard to catch all of them, though. The Union of Concerned Scientists has performed a tremendous service by producing the report <em><a href="http://www.ucsusa.org/center-science-and-democracy/promoting-scientific-integrity/sidelining-science-from-day-one">Sidelining Science from Day One: How the Trump Administration Has Harmed Public Health and Safety in Its First Six Months</a></em>.</p> <p>The authors of the UCS report – Jacob Carter, Gretchen Goldman, Genna Reed, Peter Hansel, Michael Halpern, and Andrew Rosenberg – remind us it’s so important for the US government to encourage, conduct, and make use of science:</p> <blockquote><p>Research in the 1970s about the neurological effects of lead on children resulted in policies to phase-out its use in paint and gasoline. Research on chemicals and metals has improved the quality of our air, water, and soil. Research on infectious diseases has saved innumerable lives by helping governments prevent or anticipate responses to future outbreaks. Advancements in technology have made household appliances, automobiles, and other consumer products safer, cleaner, and more cost-effective and energy-efficient. Government science has improved weather predictions, and climate studies have helped communities across the United States prepare for rising sea levels, drought, extreme heat, and other impacts of climate change.</p></blockquote> <p>All modern presidents have politicized science to some degree, they write, but “these threats to the federal scientific enterprise have escalated markedly” under the Trump administration. Here’s their summary of the current situation:</p> <blockquote><p>President Trump and his advisors and appointees, along with allied members of Congress, have willfully distorted scientific information, targeted scientists for doing their jobs, impeded scientists’ ability to conduct research, limited access to taxpayer-funded scientific information, disregarded the science in science-based policies, and rolled back science-based protections aimed at advancing public health. They have appointed officials with severe conflicts of interest to oversee industries to which they are tied, and, in some cases, they now lead agencies they have previously disparaged or even sued. They have dismissed climate science despite overwhelming evidence of the devastating impacts of climate change. And they have restricted agencies from considering scientific evidence fully in the decision-making process. Further, the president’s budget blueprints reveal the administration’s desire to scrap investments in basic data collection and research at major agencies, threatening the government’s ability to enforce our nation’s public health and environmental laws.</p></blockquote> <p> </p> <p><strong>Attacking work on climate and other aspects of public health</strong><br /> It’s not a surprise that many of the harmful actions the report describes focus on climate change. These include the <a href="http://www.ucsusa.org/center-science-and-democracy/attacks-on-science/centers-disease-control-and-prevention-cancels">cancelation of CDC’s Climate and Health Summit;</a> <a href="http://www.ucsusa.org/center-science-and-democracy/attacks-on-science/communication-multiple-agencies-restricted-after">temporary media blackouts focused on agencies doing climate work</a>; instructing employees at the Energy Department’s Office of International Climate and Clean Energy to <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2017/03/energy-department-climate-change-phrases-banned-236655">avoid using the term “climate change” in written communications</a>; <a href="http://www.ucsusa.org/center-science-and-democracy/attacks-on-science/department-interior-censors-press-release-usgs-study">removing language on climate change and sea level rise</a> from a press release on new work by US Geological Survey scientists; <a href="http://www.ucsusa.org/center-science-and-democracy/attacks-on-science/noaa-neglects-connect-human-activity-greenhouse">failing to link greenhouse gas emissions and human activity</a> in a NOAA news release; and an executive order reversing and stalling <a href="http://blog.ucsusa.org/rachel-cleetus/president-trumps-all-out-attack-on-climate-policy">multiple climate-related policies from the Obama administration</a>. And, of course, <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/06/06/paris-and-profits/">President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement</a> will have <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/06/01/sad-to-be-an-american-grieving-for-mother-earth-and-her-people/">grave consequences for public health</a>.</p> <p>The UCS report also catalogs some of the many public-health regulations that the Trump administration has delayed, with serious consequences for those who work with hazardous substances and live in communities with high levels of pollution. For instance, the administration is re-reviewing regulation of <a href="http://blog.ucsusa.org/dave-cooke/fact-checking-the-trump-administrations-claims-about-epas-vehicle-standards">vehicle emissions standards</a>; <a href="http://cen.acs.org/articles/95/i12/EPA-chief-delays-industrial-chemical-safety-regulation.html">delayed implementation of the Risk Management Plan program</a> intended to prevent disasters like the deadly fertilizer facility fire in West, Texas; <a href="https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=FEDERAL_REGISTER&amp;p_id=27731">put off the effective date</a> of a regulation to <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/01/12/a-unions-persistence-results-in-new-osha-rule-for-workers-exposed-to-beryllium/">better protect workers exposed to beryllium</a>; <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/15/health/pesticides-epa-chlorpyrifos-scott-pruitt.html">rejected a petition to ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos</a>, which studies have linked to neurodevelopmental problems; <a href="https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=news_releases&amp;p_id=33810">delayed enforcement</a> of a rule to <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2016/03/24/sorry-it-took-so-long-osha-issues-rule-to-protect-workers-exposed-to-silica-dust/">reduce workers’ exposure to lung-destroying crystalline silica</a>; <a href="http://blog.ucsusa.org/gretchen-goldman/drowning-in-a-sea-of-sufficient-ozone-research-an-open-letter-to-epa-administrator-scott-pruitt">delayed implementation of a 2015 ozone pollution rule</a>; and made <a href="http://www.politico.com/story/2017/06/22/trump-epa-energy-chemicals-clash-239875">chemical-industry-friendly changes to EPA rules</a> implementing the updated Toxic Substances Control Act.</p> <p>Although environmental and occupational health got the brunt of anti-regulatory fervor, other aspects of public health haven’t gone unscathed. The Department of Health and Human Services quietly <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/20/health-human-services-lgbt-question-seniors-survey">removed a question about sexual identity from a survey of older individuals</a> and <a href="https://www.revealnews.org/article/trump-administration-suddenly-pulls-plug-on-teen-pregnancy-programs/">abruptly terminated multi-year projects on teen pregnancy prevention</a>. FDA has <a href="http://blog.ucsusa.org/genna-reed/signed-sealed-delayed-the-new-fate-of-the-added-sugar-rule-and-other-safeguards">indefinitely delayed rollout of a nutrition label that reports added sugars</a>. <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/public-safety/sessions-orders-justice-dept-to-end-forensic-science-commission-suspend-review-policy/2017/04/10/2dada0ca-1c96-11e7-9887-1a5314b56a08_story.html?utm_term=.47214c44caf3">Attorney General Jeff Sessions has declined to renew the National Commission on Forensic Sciences</a> that the Obama administration created in 2013.</p> <p><a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/01/30/one-step-forward-two-steps-back-dire-consequences-from-trumps-edict-on-regulations/">Executive Order 13771</a>, which instructs federal agencies to rescind two existing regulations each time it adopts a new one, considers the financial costs of regulations without appropriately recognizes their public-health benefits – and will mean fewer health-protective regulations overall. <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/06/16/scientists-join-case-against-trumps-2-for-1-regulatory-order/">Public Citizen, NRDC, and Communications Workers of America have sued to block it</a>.</p> <p>In some cases, Congress and the administration have worked together to roll back public health protections and make it harder for public health agencies to do their jobs. Congress passed and Trump signed laws <a href="https://www.vox.com/2017/2/2/14488448/stream-protection-rule">rescinding the Obama administration’s Stream Protection Rule</a>, which limited the dumping of coal mine waste into streams, and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-repeals-regulation-wage-theft_us_58d9408ee4b03692bea814c9">Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces rule</a>, which sought to reduce the extent to which federal contracts are awarded to companies engage in wage theft or violate laws on workplace safety.</p> <p>The House has also passed the <a href="https://www.nrdc.org/experts/david-goldston/reins-act-why-congress-should-hold-its-horses">REINS Act</a>, which would require regulations with $100 million in projected annual impact to be reviewed by a political appointee before taking effect; <a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/04/11/house-passes-bills-that-will-make-it-harder-for-epa-to-protect-public-health/">the HONEST Act and EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act</a>, which would make it much harder for EPA to receive and use up-to-date scientific advice and information; and the <a href="https://news.utexas.edu/2017/02/03/regulatory-accountability-act-threatens-health-and-safety">Regulatory Accountability Act</a>, which would significantly disrupt the science-based rulemaking process at all agencies.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Making life harder for federal scientists</strong></p> <p>The day before the six-month mark of the Trump administration, federal employee Joel Clement took a brave and important step. With <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/im-a-scientist-the-trump-administration-reassigned-me-for-speaking-up-about-climate-change/2017/07/19/389b8dce-6b12-11e7-9c15-177740635e83_story.html?utm_term=.9ab617f82081">an opinion column in the Washington Post</a>, he blew the whistle on the Trump administration’s involuntary reassignment of dozens of senior Department of Interior employees. Clement writes:</p> <blockquote><p>Nearly seven years ago, I came to work for the Interior Department, where, among other things, I’ve helped endangered communities in Alaska prepare for and adapt to a changing climate. But on June 15, I was one of about 50 senior department employees who received letters informing us of involuntary reassignments. Citing a need to “improve talent development, mission delivery and collaboration,” the letter informed me that I was reassigned to an unrelated job in the accounting office that collects royalty checks from fossil fuel companies.</p> <p>I am not an accountant — but you don’t have to be one to see that the administration’s excuse for a reassignment such as mine doesn’t add up. A few days after my reassignment, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke testified before Congress that the department would use reassignments as part of its effort to eliminate employees; the only reasonable inference from that testimony is that he expects people to quit in response to undesirable transfers. Some of my colleagues are being relocated across the country, at taxpayer expense, to serve in equally ill-fitting jobs.</p> <p>I believe I was retaliated against for speaking out publicly about the dangers that climate change poses to Alaska Native communities. During the months preceding my reassignment, I raised the issue with White House officials, senior Interior officials and the international community, most recently at a U.N. conference in June. It is clear to me that the administration was so uncomfortable with this work, and my disclosures, that I was reassigned with the intent to coerce me into leaving the federal government.</p></blockquote> <p>Clement has filed a complaint with the US Office of Special Counsel, but we don’t need to wait for their decision to know that the environment has grown harsher for federal employees whose work involves science. The UCS report notes that the House of Representatives’ revival of the <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-holman-rule-will-have-a-chilling-effect-on-federal-workers/2017/01/10/c0c91158-d6a2-11e6-a0e6-d502d6751bc8_story.html?utm_term=.a45e78d6e9fb">1876 Holman Rule</a>, which allows members of Congress to target specific federal offices or employees for elimination and reduce an individual employee’s salary, can create a climate in which federal employees feel pressured to avoid releasing information or issuing regulations that members of Congress are known dislike. Congress may also get distorted information from federal agencies if political appointees pressure agency employees or advisors to revise their testimony – something that happened to <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/26/us/politics/epa-official-pressured-scientist-on-congressional-testimony-emails-show.html">EPA Science Advisory Board’s Deborah Swackhamer as she prepared to testify to the House Science Committee</a> on the role of states in environmental policy. And, when scientists are told not to attend conferences – for instance, the <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/02/10/514479451/epa-halves-staff-attending-alaska-environmental-conference">Alaska Forum on the Environment</a> or an <a href="http://allthingsnuclear.org/elyman/trump-admin-blocks-government-scientists-from-meeting">international conference on nuclear energy</a> – it makes it harder for them to stay current and connected in their fields. Throw in a few <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-h-bailey/how-qualified-scientifica_b_13643058.html">political appointees who are underqualified and antagonistic to the agency’s work</a>, and you’ve got a climate that seems engineered to demoralize federal employees involved with science.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Moving forward</strong></p> <p>As the UCS report notes, members of the scientific and public-health communities are mobilizing to defend federal science and evidence-based rulemaking against recent attacks. Carter and his co-authors write:</p> <blockquote><p>Recognizing the stakes, scientists and science supporters are speaking up, taking advantage of the momentum of successful marches and new opportunities for political engagement. Scientists and science supporters are connecting the administration’s actions to consequences for public health and the environment. By understanding current and evolving threats and taking advantage of new vehicles for advocacy, we can defend the scientific enterprise our democracy depends on and preserve the public health, safety, security, and environmental protections that make our nation great. Scientists and science supporters, Congress, and the media can all play a role.</p></blockquote> <p>They make recommendations for scientists and science supporters, Congress, and the media:</p> <ul><li> <blockquote><p><strong><a href="http://www.ucsusa.org/take-action/science-network/watchdog-with-ucs">Scientists</a> and <a href="https://secure.ucsusa.org/onlineactions/NZPr3JhPBkWlzkx9bZ501w2">science supporters</a></strong> should scrutinize administration and congressional actions and sound the alarm when science is misused. They can also play a unique role in articulating to others the importance of science in our daily lives. Communicating the importance of science and science-based policies to the public and decisionmakers is crucial to fighting attacks on science in this highly charged political environment.</p></blockquote> </li> <li> <blockquote><p><strong>Congress</strong> should use its oversight authorities to investigate and hold accountable the administration for actions that threaten scientific integrity and science-based policies, and it should act to protect whistleblowers. With the growing trend of abuses against science in the Trump administration, Congress must exercise its full authority as a check against the executive branch. Also, Congress should pass legislation to better protect federal scientists and the integrity of science in our federal agencies.</p></blockquote> </li> <li> <blockquote><p><strong>Journalists </strong>must continue to hold administration officials and members of Congress accountable for their words and actions and investigate cases of suppressing, misrepresenting, manipulating, or otherwise politicizing science, along with related allegations of wrongdoing in our federal government. The media should seek out scientists as sources when possible and call out agencies that place unnecessary barriers on communications between journalists and government scientists.</p></blockquote> </li> </ul><p>Without strong action to oppose current assaults on science, it will only become harder to address threats to public health from infectious diseases, pollutants, and unsafe consumer products. Agency efforts to encourage healthier behaviors and built environments may see recent gains reversed and future progress stalled. Responding to the threats described in the the UCS reports is essential for the health of future generations.</p> <p>To download a copy of <em>Sidelining Science from Day One</em> and see an interactive timeline of Trump Administration and Congressional Actions, <a href="http://www.ucsusa.org/center-science-and-democracy/promoting-scientific-integrity/sidelining-science-from-day-one">visit the UCS website</a>.</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Related posts</strong><br /><a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/06/16/scientists-join-case-against-trumps-2-for-1-regulatory-order/">Scientists join case against Trump’s 2 for 1 regulatory order</a> (June 6)<br /><a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/06/06/paris-and-profits/">Paris and profits</a> (June 6)<br /><a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/06/01/sad-to-be-an-american-grieving-for-mother-earth-and-her-people/">Sad to be an American, grieving for Mother Earth and her people</a> (June 1)<br /><a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/04/20/evolving-door-from-chemical-industry-to-epa-no-way-to-boost-public-confidence/">Revolving door from chemical industry to EPA: No way to boost public confidence</a> (April 20)<br /><a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/04/19/formaldehyde-scientists-and-politics/">Formaldehyde, scientists, and politics</a> (April 19)<br /><a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/04/11/house-passes-bills-that-will-make-it-harder-for-epa-to-protect-public-health/">House passes bills that will make it harder for EPA to protect public health</a> (April 11)<br /><a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/03/08/health-organizations-warn-about-regulatory-reform-bills-sweeping-congress/">Health organizations warn about “regulatory reform” bills sweeping Congress</a> (March 8)<br /><a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/02/27/scientific-integrity-act-protecting-the-government-science-that-protects-all-of-us/">Scientific Integrity Act: Protecting the government science that protects all of us </a>(February 27)<br /><a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/02/08/work-for-an-agency-have-something-to-leak/">Work for an agency? Have something to leak?</a> (February 8)<br /><a href="http://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/01/30/one-step-forward-two-steps-back-dire-consequences-from-trumps-edict-on-regulations/">One step forward, two steps back. Dire consequences from Trump’s edict on regulations</a> (January 30)</p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/lborkowski" lang="" about="/author/lborkowski" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">lborkowski</a></span> <span>Mon, 07/24/2017 - 02:04</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/chemicals-policy" hreflang="en">chemicals policy</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/environmental-health" hreflang="en">Environmental health</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/environmental-protection-agency" hreflang="en">Environmental Protection Agency</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/food-and-drug-administration" hreflang="en">Food and Drug Administration</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-health-safety" hreflang="en">Occupational Health &amp; Safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/osha" hreflang="en">OSHA</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/regulation" hreflang="en">regulation</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/research" hreflang="en">Research</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/scientific-integrity" hreflang="en">scientific integrity</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/trump-administration" hreflang="en">Trump administration</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/union-concerned-scientists" hreflang="en">Union of Concerned Scientists</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/chemicals-policy" hreflang="en">chemicals policy</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/environmental-health" hreflang="en">Environmental health</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/regulation" hreflang="en">regulation</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/research" hreflang="en">Research</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/scientific-integrity" hreflang="en">scientific integrity</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-categories field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Categories</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/channel/environment" hreflang="en">Environment</a></div> </div> </div> <section> </section> <ul class="links inline list-inline"><li class="comment-forbidden"><a href="/user/login?destination=/thepumphandle/2017/07/24/ucs-tallies-assaults-on-science-during-trumps-first-six-months%23comment-form">Log in</a> to post comments</li></ul> Mon, 24 Jul 2017 06:04:13 +0000 lborkowski 62896 at https://scienceblogs.com California work fatalities and injuries on the rise while millions of dollars of enforcement resources are “left sitting on the table” https://scienceblogs.com/thepumphandle/2017/07/11/california-work-fatalities-and-injuries-on-the-rise-while-millions-of-dollars-of-enforcement-resources-are-left-sitting-on-the-table <span>California work fatalities and injuries on the rise while millions of dollars of enforcement resources are “left sitting on the table”</span> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p>At the end of two complete years when dozens of fully-funded field compliance positions went empty, reported workplace fatalities and injuries in California are on the rise. California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (<a href="https://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/">Cal/OSHA</a>) has had a monthly average of 34 vacant field enforcement positions since July 2015, which means that more than $10 million in state-authorized funding was left unused.</p> <p>Meanwhile, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest available data shows that 388 workers were fatally injured on the job in California in 2015. On average, that is more than one worker a day who never went home again. The fatality rate in California <a href="https://www.scribd.com/document/353436289/2015-DOSH-Stats-Table-1">increased by 10%</a> from the year before, to 2.2 per 100,000 full-time workers.</p> <p>The number of Latino workers killed on the job <a href="https://www.scribd.com/document/353436336/2015-DOSH-Stats-Table-2">jumped 40%</a> from 2014 to 2015, increasing from 127 to 178.  Latinos made up 46% of all California work fatalities in 2015, much higher than their percentage of the total workforce.</p> <p>It is true that California’s fatality rate is lower than other major industrial states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania or Texas, but this is about the only good news in the latest available data.</p> <p><strong>California workplace injuries and illnesses</strong></p> <p>California’s injury statistics are significantly worse than the national incidence rates of non-fatal injuries and illnesses – both the “DART” rate for injuries involving days away from work, job transfer or restriction and the “Total Recordable Case” (TRC) rate.</p> <p>California has a DART rate for all private and public sector workplaces that is <a href="https://www.scribd.com/document/353436361/2015-DOSH-Stats-Table-3">29% higher than the national rate</a>. The private industry DART rate is 31% higher. Looking closer at the data: the rate for service industries is 33% higher; leisure and hospitality rates are 66% higher; and public administration is 45% higher.</p> <p>For natural resources and mining industries, California’s DART rate is 59% higher than the national average. This is at a time when Cal/OSHA’s Mining &amp; Tunneling Unit’s field staff is half the size it was 15 years ago, but the M&amp;T unit’s work has grown significantly due to major tunnel and construction projects throughout the state.</p> <p>In addition to a higher DART rate than other major industrial states, <a href="https://www.scribd.com/document/353436383/2015-DOSH-Stats-Table-4">California in 2015 had the highest “Total Recordable Case” (TRC) rate</a>. The Golden State’s rate of 3.8 cases per 100 workers was also 15% higher than the national rate of 3.3 cases.</p> <p>California had more than <a href="https://www.scribd.com/document/353436399/2015-DOSH-Stats-Table-5">470,000 recordable injuries in 2015</a>, including 144,000 that were serious enough to require days off from work – or 395 lost-time injuries every day of the year.</p> <p>The number of injuries captured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for California may, in fact, <a href="https://www.scribd.com/document/353436418/2015-DOSH-Stats-Table-6">be significantly underestimated</a>. The BLS data for 2015 indicates 470,600 recordable cases (requiring medical treatment beyond first aid).  The California Workers Compensation Information System, however, lists 606,792 workers reporting injuries for the year. That’s a difference of 136,000 injury cases.  Depending on which data source you use, between 1,290 to 1,660 workers on average are injured on the job every day in California.</p> <p>Despite the lower fatality rate, the number of worker deaths, injuries and illnesses in California show that “our job is not done” in terms of workplace health and safety in the state.</p> <p>What’s needed is a strong enforcement agency with sufficient staffing and resources to ensure that effective safety programs are fully implemented by employers. The latest statistics show the need for more resources to reach out to and involve worker organizations (unions, worker centers, immigrant and community-based organizations) so that workers know the hazards, know what hazard controls are available, and what their rights are under the law. The stats show the need for a strong enforcement approach by Cal/OSHA that will be a deterrent to employees against cutting corners on safety, and to hold all employers accountable, including large employers with political connections.</p> <p><strong>Enforcement resources left untouched</strong></p> <p>Starting in July 2015, the California Legislature acted to provide some sorely needed additional resources.  Cal/OSHA was fully funded to hire 245 field Compliance Safety and Health Officers (CSHO). (By way of comparison, the state employs 250 Fish &amp; Game Wardens.)</p> <p>However, between July 2015 and June 2017, there has been an average of 34 CSHO vacancies every month at Cal/OSHA. In June 2017, there were still <a href="https://www.scribd.com/document/353436437/June-2017-CSHO-Summary-Chart-Table-7">26 unfilled CSHO positions</a>, representing a vacancy rate of 10.7%, with a total of 209.5 field-available compliance officers.</p> <p>It is a little known fact that Cal/OSHA’s budget and personnel hiring are entirely controlled by the <a href="https://www.dir.ca.gov">Department of Industrial Relations</a> (DIR). This means that it is DIR Director Christine Baker – not Cal/OSHA Headquarters – who decides the level of protection provided by Cal/OSHA to California workers.</p> <p>Each CSHO position involves $150,000 a year in salary, benefits and operating expenses. With an average of 34 vacancies each month, $10.2 million in enforcement resources has been “left on the table” by DIR at a time when hundreds of workers have been killed and thousands injured and made ill on the job over the two years since July 2015.</p> <p><strong>Adverse impact on Cal/OSHA and California workers</strong></p> <p>In addition to the Mining &amp; Tunneling Unit, Cal/OSHA’s Elevator Unit also has been put on a starvation diet since 2015. It’s resulted in a backlog of expired elevator permits, with more than 30% of the state’s elevators behind on the legally-required annual inspection. As of June 2017, the Elevator Unit has 14 vacancies for field inspectors, with 11 of the 14 in the agency’s San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose offices.</p> <p>DIR – despite the inspector vacancies and the backlog of permit inspections – declared an inspection “fee holiday” for building owners in 2015.  A “fee holiday” means the elevator owners and operators are relieved of paying the fees required by state law for inspections.  In 2017, DIR declared a permanent 25% reduction in fees.</p> <p>The chronic understaffing of Cal/OSHA field enforcement personnel has significant adverse consequences for protecting workers in California:</p> <ul><li>It takes Cal/OSHA longer to open inspections of worker complaints, and then longer to close these inspections (which is when required hazard corrections are triggered) than allowed by state law and federal OSHA guidelines;</li> <li>Cal/OSHA cannot conduct all of the required “follow-up” inspections. Under state law, Cal/OSHA must conduct a follow-up inspection whenever a previous one resulted in “serious” citations that which were not corrected during the course of the initial inspection;</li> <li>Cal/OSHA cannot meet the requirement under state law to inspect tunnels under construction at least six times a year (every two months); and</li> <li>Cal/OSHA is unable to meet the requirements of its own Policies &amp; Procedures to inspect 10% of the worksites where permits have been issued for work involving asbestos or lead, digging trenches, or demolishing buildings.</li> </ul><p>Moreover, the lack of field enforcement personnel weakens worker protections in California in other ways.  Fewer field inspections are done overall, fewer worker complaints are investigated because accident investigations take priority, and fewer planned or “programmed” inspections of high-hazard industries and workplaces are conducted.</p> <p>When inspections <em>are</em> done, they are less thorough and narrower in scope so as to close them as rapidly as possible to deal with the ever-growing backlog of complaints and accidents. Time-consuming “health” inspections of worker exposures to chemicals, noise, infectious agents and ergonomic (repetitive motion) hazards are done less frequently, if at all. Rushed, incomplete inspections mean that harmful exposures to noise or chemicals are not evaluated, and control measures to eliminate or reduce these exposures are not implemented.</p> <p>The lack of sufficient enforcement personnel and resources means that uncontrolled exposures to safety and health hazards will lead to both acute and chronic injuries, illnesses and fatalities. California’s experience over the last several years reflects this reality.</p> <p>Hiring CSHOs within California’s inflexible, cumbersome civil service system is not an easy task. This, combined with the wave of “baby boomer” retirements that has hit Cal/OSHA, means filling the vacancies requires determination.  These obstacles could be overcome if there was sufficient political will and a “number one priority” approach to fill these fully-funded enforcement positions. “Where there is a will, there is a way,” as the saying goes.</p> <p>In the meantime, it is not right that California’s workers and their families have to pay the price in blood and tears. The lack of political will at DIR and in the Governor’s office is resulting in a chronically understaffed workplace safety agency leaving millions of dollars of enforcement resources untouched. Surely the workers of California deserve the same level of protection that the state’s Fish &amp; Game Wardens provide California wildlife.</p> <p><em>Garrett Brown is a certified industrial hygienist who worked for Cal/OSHA for 20 years as a field Compliance Safety and Health Officer and then served as Special Assistant to the Chief of the Division before retiring in 2014.  He has also been the volunteer Coordinator of the Maquiladora Health &amp; Safety Support Network since 1993 and has coordinated projects in Bangladesh, Central America, China, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Mexico and Vietnam. </em></p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> </div> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/author/garrettbrown" lang="" about="/author/garrettbrown" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">garrettbrown</a></span> <span>Tue, 07/11/2017 - 05:00</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/calosha" hreflang="en">Cal/OSHA</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/california" hreflang="en">california</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/mining" hreflang="en">Mining</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-fatalities" hreflang="en">occupational fatalities</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/occupational-health-safety" hreflang="en">Occupational Health &amp; Safety</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/osha" hreflang="en">OSHA</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/cshos" hreflang="en">CSHOs</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/elevator-inspections" hreflang="en">elevator inspections</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/mining-tunneling" hreflang="en">Mining &amp; Tunneling</a></div> <div class="field--item"><a href="/tag/mining" hreflang="en">Mining</a></div> </div> </div> <section> </section> <ul class="links inline list-inline"><li class="comment-forbidden"><a href="/user/login?destination=/thepumphandle/2017/07/11/california-work-fatalities-and-injuries-on-the-rise-while-millions-of-dollars-of-enforcement-resources-are-left-sitting-on-the-table%23comment-form">Log in</a> to post comments</li></ul> Tue, 11 Jul 2017 09:00:43 +0000 garrettbrown 62888 at https://scienceblogs.com